Councillor Elspeth Kerr shares her journey from being unable to work to becoming self employed and a councillor for Drumchapel/ Anniesland.
Elspeth was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes aged seventeen, the condition affected all aspects of her life with her children and husband playing a huge role in her support. At thirty seven Elspeth gave up her Manager position in a shop due to the side effects of the condition on her eye sight. Shortly after this Elspeth discovered she had inherited the BRCA2 gene, which led to the removal of her ovaries and undergoing a double mastectomy.
After being turned down for breast reconstruction, Elspeth felt frustrated by her position and helpless sparking some negative thoughts and at this point Elspeth went for professional help. Elspeth was prescribed anti-depressants and told to self refer to COPE Scotland.
Elspeth received six sessions, offering pragmatic solution focussed interventions, building resilience and self management techniques. Elspeth was then invited to a full COPE Scotland meeting as the organisation is co-produced and direction is designed by the people who use the service, where she realised there was the opportunity to volunteer for the organisation.
The Employability Journey
Elspeth began volunteering with COPE Scotland, visiting local nurseries and parent groups. To begin with it was in a shadowing capacity but over time the opportunity led to her leading on the sessions.
‘Made me feel useful, I had felt so useless for so long’
The demand for the services by the community grew which resulted in a requirement for increased staff time. Elspeth took this opportunity to become self employed and became an associate of the organisation as a Community Consultant.
Elspeth always had an interest in politics and with an increase in her own ability and confidence she stood for the position of councillor, with a drive to challenge the inequalities which people face.
For Elspeth, the employability journey wasn’t about the income, It was about having a drive and purpose and having the opportunity to make progress in an area which interests you.
When a career pathway comes to an end, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t other opportunities for you to explore. It can often open the door to something better.